"Reduce, reuse, recycle." Most likely, you've heard that catchy phrase connected with information about saving natural resources and even saving your family money. But how many of us really make reducing, reusing and recycling a part of our everyday life?
Depending on where you're starting from, it may take a change in mindset, or maybe just a little more dedication. But these tips from the Environmental Protection Agency can help:
Reducing and reusing
- Look for products that use less packaging. Companies use less raw material when they use less packaging, reducing waste and cost. This means that you can save money while helping to protect the environment. A great example (though it sounds at odds with "reduce") is buying items in bulk.
- Avoid disposable items. Take your own travel mug to the coffee shop, for instance, or bring real silverware to work for lunches, instead of using plastic.
- Let technology help. New LED light bulbs use far less energy than standard bulbs, and low-flow shower heads, coupled with aerators, can reduce your water use without you even noticing.
- Invest in maintenance. When properly maintained, many items, such as appliances and clothing, won't need to be replaced as frequently.
- Don't buy limited-use items. If you need something that you won't use more than once or twice, such as a power tool, see if you can borrow or rent instead of buying.
- Donate! When you're done with an item, if it's in good shape, consider donating it to a charitable organization that will sell it or continue using it. You just might get a tax deduction, too! And don't forget, you can always buy used items as well.
Recycling isn't just about putting your cans, bottles and newspapers into a bin, although that plays a big part. Here are some other things to consider.
- Electronic waste: TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronics should not go into landfills. Many companies offer options now for proper disposal at little to no cost. Even printer ink cartridges can be recycled.
- Food waste: In many communities, food scraps and waste are collected along with yard waste and used for composting.
- Restaurants and grocery stores: Some establishments are beginning to offer separate bins for recyclable materials and food waste. Be sure to use these when available, and if your favorite place doesn't offer this option, ask about it!
Though your actions may seem small, they do make a difference in the community — and the world. And when they're combined with the efforts of millions of others, the impact is even bigger than you can imagine!